Tell Me

So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.

Are you happy?  Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?

If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life.  Balance is key.  Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.

I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear.  Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.

My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you.  For sure, ‘love’ is a big word.  It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.

Life is learning.  That never stops, so I’m still learning too.  My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.

Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.

I am grateful.

The Day You Were Born
At the beach
At the beach
Austen & me June 2009
High School Graduation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man/ Boy and Mama Aug. 2012
Summer Before College Graduation

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Oh, Boy

Because that’s how I see you. Not really a boy, though. More like a young adult. Emphasis on young.

How would I treat you if I weren’t your mother? I’d still be concerned, and I know that because that’s me. I care for everyone I love – and my problem is being too attached – and I know all the ‘how to live a happy (er) life’ teachers, guides, gurus, masters, etc. say that attachment is the source of my pain. Stop being attached. Just stop.

It’s possible, but it’s not like turning off a switch. And if it is, then I don’t want to know you because you’re probably psychotic.

Little by little I am letting go. Issue by issue. If my job was to keep you safe – and let you take risks – I was a successful failure. I did let you fall off your bike. I did watch as I knew you might scratch your knees when you were running so fast downhill and took a header – and I was grateful that was the worst of it – but I did not let you run out into traffic and face those natural consequences. In fact, I smacked your ass and told you in no uncertain terms that you will never do that again.

Yeah, yeah, violence is never the answer, but it wasn’t violence I was going for. It was reaction from unadulterated fear – from my not being everywhere at once – from what felt like my failure, at the time. As far as that toddler you were, I was god(dess).

The next terrible two incident was finding you surrounded by unsheathed freshly sharpened knives in Beth’s kitchen. You had to open the drawer that was over your head, and take out the knives one by one. You were like every other toddler on the planet – curious and non-stop. And you didn’t have one scratch on you. There is a god(dess)! – but it’s not me…

It was exhausting, and I was in the midst of newly single parenting, and trying to find work, and our own apartment, and was doing the best I could to be present and available for you. You were such a lovely being. Your ‘up, Mama up,’ from your crib in the morning was so precious. How could I not get my ass out of bed for that, no matter how tired I was?

When you were three, and we were living in our South Portland apartment, and I had just been Momzilla about some stupid shit, and I was sitting on the floor crying, you took my face in your sweet little hands and said: “the anger blocks the love, mama”.

That was your way of grabbing my full attention. If I was distracted and you had something. to. say. you’d grab my face in your hands and force my presence. Thankfully that wasn’t a constant occurrence, but more, that you were resourceful, even as a toddler.

I watched you deal with disappointment in your grade school years, watched as every kid in your class got a party invitation but you, and we ended up going to the public river swimming area that day. I was livid, but I hugged you and dealt with your hurt, and called those parents later, saying that they could have at least invited you for the cake once they knew you were there. I got it, not everyone is going to like you, but when the whole class was there? I started wondering if you had ADHD or something, but really, you were just already your own person, and at that age, conformity was king. You faced social challenges early on, and I did the best I could to support the great kid I knew you were – as well as try to get you to conform some – for your ease, not mine.

It wasn’t until junior high, at Four Rivers Charter Public School, that you found your posse. It was a great fit for you, and I watched you blossom there. You were pulling away from me, as life dictates, and I told you that you were changing but I wasn’t, and I’d always be here.

I feel like I need to say that again. I’m always here. Same as it ever was – to borrow a Talking Heads phrase. Maybe I’ve changed a lot too, but it doesn’t feel that way. I love you and like you and want you in my life as much – or even more now – as I always have.

But, to the point of letting go: it’s for my benefit that I release my bond to you.

You know where to find me, and my love is unchanging.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

Parental Freak-out

My child is grown and gone.  He’s 25, and living large in the city, and yet, I have trouble not interfering.  I want to say, ‘please listen to my advice because I never listened to those wiser than me, and I totally screwed up my life as a result.’  But, I know it wouldn’t do any good.  That was me, not him.

I try to remember that I survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.  He had a pretty solid upbringing, regardless of my Momzilla-ness.  I was present and available.  I provided structure, love, and guidance.

Did he have cotton in his ears the whole time?  I warned him about my DNA, about his father’s DNA – that the likelihood of him becoming alcoholic is stronger than it was for me, and for his father – but I think he took that as a challenge.  He can defy history.  He can out-drink his DNA.

It’s painful, and I know he’s young, and he’ll probably survive – but he also might not.

And there’s nothing I can do.

I don’t want to badger, advise, attempt management, or control.  It’s not my job anymore. Maybe I fucked up so bad that drinking is his way of getting through life, but that doesn’t make sense.  I know I did a mostly good job, and he appreciates my influence in his life.

Letting go and letting him figure it out is what I need to do, I know, but it’s proving very difficult.

I continue to love him as fiercely as ever.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Dark Times

Two friends have died in the last month.  Two people who were making the most of their lives, really enjoying all the moments they could, living with gusto and positivity.

They both left behind teen-aged children, significant others, and a wealth of friends.

I sat at one friend’s memorial while dozens recounted how kind, generous, fun, and mischievous he was, and what a loss it was to not have his presence here anymore.

It’s not about what comes after this.  There is nothing we can do about what’s beyond here, if anything, except to live to the best of our capacity, and believe that if there is a creator, we are accepted.

I will soon attend the services for my other friend, more like family, really, and that is a shock not yet sunk in for he passed away last night.

Being in top health doesn’t guarantee a longer life – but it sure makes being here easier. Health adds to our ability to tend to each other and to tend to the world.  Being our best helps, but being a light regardless of anything else going on matters the most.

The stories of how much people’s lives were touched by just one being is astounding to witness.

Who will eulogize me, and what will they say?  Who will be around to witness my passing, to send me off – if anything exists beyond here – with a brighter soul than I had before I left?

I hope stories shared will create laughter and joy.  I hope I have been kind enough to warrant a group of disparate individuals coming together to celebrate that I was here, and that I mattered.

Steve – you were fun, hilarious, kind, increased my joy immensely, and I’m sad to no longer have an ’80’s karaoke pal, and you are greatly missed by your family, and the wealth of friends and acquaintances left behind who honor your memory.

Dave – you also were fun, funny, kind, a wonderful athlete with a zest for life, and your presence will be dearly missed, especially by your wife and children, your extended family, and the hundreds of friends who’ve already been attesting to your influence, and meaning to them, and to all of us.

If we continue in any sentient form, I hope you are both at peace, surrounded by love, and by those gone before you, but you will long be remembered and celebrated here, and I’m glad I knew you.

Death is tough whenever it comes, for those remaining, but it’s especially tough around the holidays, when it seems that anything but good cheer is out-of-place.  It’s also hard to lose friends and family in winter when the bleak land and low light deepens our darkness.

We will love and comfort each other, and remember their best with as joyful a heart as we can muster.

Peace be with you.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

The Winter Of Our Discontent (But Not Made Glorious…)

It’s snow-sleeting as I write this.  Winter has come to Western MA at last, but I take comfort in how long it took for the low temperatures and bad weather to get here.

My family had our Christmas gathering this past Sunday and it was an ‘off’ year.  I have laryngitis so that curtailed the Christmas carols I had hoped to sing, but more than that, there wasn’t a sense of togetherness or connection.  It basically sucked.

I’ve tried so long to recapture the friendship I had with my next oldest sister, but she’s as determined to keep her distance.

I’m exuberant by nature, and by design – it’s my personal lit candle in my darkness – and it has served me well socially.  It’s not fake, I actually feel excited to be with family and friends in conviviality and joy.

I understand that sometimes life sucks, and sucks hard.  I get that.  I live that more often than I’d like – which is why I cherish the time spent with others in good cheer – especially those who know me best, who understand where I came from, and can benefit from kindness and love.

Maybe I can let others take me out of myself, and my sister isn’t good at that, or she feels like it’s pretending, but I’ve grown tired of trying to be friends.

As a friend’s bumper sticker reads: “Life’s too short to drink bad wine.”

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

‘Tis The Season

From: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2011/sep/09/autumn-food-breaks-italy-france
From: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2011/sep/09/autumn-food-breaks-italy-france

Nat King Cole croons The Christmas Song, and I remember that it’s my sister-in-law’s favorite holiday song.  Many years ago we went caroling: she, my brother (her husband), my next oldest sister, and our younger brother, as well as some family friends, and I remember our fun, our exuberance, and just us as young adults.

Eventually, our lives expanded out like the big bang – each of us in our various orbits, claiming our bit of space, our independence from one another.

What role our family trauma played, I’m unsure, but untreated trauma does not resolve of its own. It can be medicated, white-knuckled, tossed outward, or left festering inside, but it has to be handled.

There are healthy ways of dealing with trauma and not so healthy ways.  So much creativity has been born from pain, and those who’ve had that outlet are sometimes healed, but not always.

I doubt my brother would want me to feel sad for him.  It’s not pity he needs, and it’s not pity I’m giving.  I lived with my parents too.  I was there too.  I was affected too.

He doesn’t want advice from his littlest sister, even though I had to deal with my trauma or die – even though I sought professional help, and practiced the tools I was given – even though I trained to help other trauma survivors – even though sometimes it’s still next to unbearable remaining alive.

The best way out is through, for me.  Just let the feelings be, but visit the skills I’ve learned before I’m in crisis.  I forget that.  I think I’m healed – that I’m all done feeling pain – or that I’ll always cope well from now on.

Pride kicks in too – the belief that I’m knowledgeable, and therefore untouchable.  The other side is despair.  Why remain alive if I keep going through this, or if I can’t make life better?

I can hold my brother in my heart – as well as my whole family – and I re-affirm that he is whole and complete.  He is competent, capable, and has enough humility to seek what he needs.  He knows I care, he knows I’m available, and he knows I understand as perhaps few others can.

He’s made it through, all these years later, and I remember that what’s not dealt with keeps manifesting itself until it’s faced – whenever, or however, that trauma shows up.

I’ve re-connected with most of my siblings after raising my son and having my space again.  My S.O. has been an understanding, caring, and deeply loving partner, and I know how rare that is, and I still want to run away now and then.  My old nemeses, fear, self-hate, and depression, muscle their way in, but if I’m fortified enough, they’re easier to battle.

This time of year is filled with the ghosts of trauma past, their presence appearing unconsciously, making it seem as though now is the problem, or that I have made no emotional progress.

I cannot save my brother, or anyone who doesn’t want to be saved, but I continue to love and care anyway. The violence witnessed, and perpetrated on us, got into our psyches, but it was also programmed into our DNA before we were born, from the violence done to our parents, and on down our line, but we can use our will, we can learn self-love, and we can practice self-care, changing not only ourselves, but the DNA we pass on to our children, and that they will pass on to theirs.

Christmas is about hope in terrible circumstances.  Whether it’s just a story, or has some historical truth, the message, to me, is perseverance, self-love, and love, and hope, for humanity.

Love, kindness, and care are what matters, and the carols my family and friends used to sing were, and still are, a gift of light in a dark season – for ourselves as well as others.

I wish all whatever you need, and for more joy, comfort, peace, and love – whatever you celebrate, or not!

Happy all-the-days. 🙂

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Back In Time With You

I missed you more intensely this year.  Remembering our trips to the library every year, you picking out books you wanted to read, or have me read to you, and me picking out scary and fun Halloween stories to read together.  I miss how you’d cuddle up on my lap and play with my ear as I read to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad you’re grown up and handling your adult life beautifully, but sometimes I feel like we’re near strangers, and I struggle knowing what to talk about now.  Wanting a separate life with little contact is understandable – I remember being your age – although I can’t know your perspective as a man.

Life changed when I had you.  My life was no longer solely my own, and becoming a parent changed me in ways you can’t know unless you become a parent.

The struggles we endured as you grew have not faded, but I think I handled them well.  An image flashes of you at fourteen standing stock still while I hugged you, telling you I love you, and even though you were changing, I was not.  You did, at least, allow me to hug you.

We got through those dark times, even if sometimes the memories still tear me up, and I wish my best memories with you were more current, but I’m reminded of our sweet and happy times together every year.

Holidays heighten my old loss with you, that necessary loss we all experience, and even though I’ve spent time reading to other people’s children at a play-group, or with the children I cared for, it isn’t the same.

The sadness only lasts a few days, and sweet memories are there too, but missing you pushes out better feelings I try to invoke, and it’s OK to feel this – especially as I have little control over its insistence.

Shame that I’m not wiser, happier, better, more emotionally balanced, presses in, and my best weapon is non-resistance.

This is depression’s scourge, my trauma brain – whatever – and minimizing my reality by suggesting I ‘choose happiness’, or other platitudes, only increases isolation.

It took all this to say I miss our connection; I miss the boy you were, even if I celebrate the man you are.

Halloween, S. Portland, ME Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

I hope you had a fun Halloween.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Festive Autumn

Massachusetts Postcard

Autumn always filled me with excitement as a child – mostly the thought of Halloween and what I would be that year – and how much candy I could get…  I also loved making leaf piles and jumping in them with my best friend, and the pungent odor of fallen oak and maple leaves still brings those happy memories up front, as well as crunching through fallen leaves on a crisp October evening’s walk, watching curls of acrid wood smoke from various chimneys, the scent lingering on the air, reminding me of warming up by a bon or campfire on colder late autumn and winter nights, made especially nice by a steaming mug of coffee, or sweet, hot cocoa, and lively company.

Bonfire Night

Autumn tree

In honor of so many festivals and fairs celebrating the harvest and helping the (for me) tough transition from summer, I offer a listing of many Massachusetts fall events.  Unfortunately, a lot of them fall on Columbus Day Weekend, so choosing what to attend could need a print out of events and a dart board to tape it to. 🙂

If you’re not close enough to enjoy any of these events, I’m sure there are festivals and celebrations wherever you are too.

***fryeburgfairnight

Western MA Autumn Happenings:

 http://www.historic-deerfield.org/event/hands/focus-fridays-chinese-export-porcelain-tea-set-2/?eID=18260   Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA, Focus Fridays: Old Burying Ground, Oct. 2 & Oct. 30, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 http://warebca.com/fall-fest-2014/   Ware Annual Fall Festival, Oct. 3rd, 2015, various events & venues, 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

 http://www.fallfoliageparade.com/   Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade, North Adams, MA, 60th Anniversary: Sunday, Oct. 4th, 2015 – 1 p.m.

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~ Columbus Day Weekend ~

http://salmonfallsgallery.com/   Shelburne Falls Art walk & artist’s reception, Shelburne Falls, MA, Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://www.paradisecityarts.com/   Northampton Paradise City Arts Festival, Northampton, MA, October 10, 11 & 12, 2015, Sat & Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Mon. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://www.thebige.com/   The Big E Fair, West Springfield, MA, September 18th – October 4th, 2015. Gates open 8 a.m.

http://www.topsfieldfair.org/  Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, MA, Fri, Oct 2 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, Oct. 2, opens 1 p.m., Oct. 3 – 12, 10 a.m.

http://www.ashfieldfallfestival.org/  Ashfield Fall Festival, Ashfield, MA, October 10 &11, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – both days – rain or shine.

http://www.berkshirebotanical.org/see-and-do/harvest-festival/harvest-festival-home-page/  Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival Stockbridge, MA, Saturday and Sunday October 10th and 11th, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – rain or shine.

http://exploreadams.com/play/ramblefest   Ramblefest, Adams Visitors Center, Adams, MA, Oct. 11, Noon – 5 p.m., – Oct 12, 2015, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://bazaar.culturalsurvival.org/amherst-common   Indigenous Cultural Survival Festival, Amherst Common, Amherst, MA, Sat. Oct 10 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.riversidebluesandbbq.com/   5th Annual Riverside Blues, Brews, and BBQ, Greenfield, MA, October 10th & 11th, 2015, Noon – 6 p.m. both days

http://www.townofgranville.net/   34th Annual Granville Harvest Fair, Granville, MA, October 10th – 12th, 2015, Oct.10, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Oct.11, Noon – 5:00 p.m., & Oct.12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

http://trinityspringfield.org/wp/?ai1ec_event=12th-annual-fall-craft-fair&instance_id=9168  Trinity United Methodist Church, Springfield, MA, Fall Craft Fair, Sat., October 17, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 http://www.parkhillorchard.com/art   Park Hill Orchard, Easthampton, MA, Art In the Orchard, August 13 – October 31, 2015, a walking sculpture trail winding through fruit gardens

http://mikesmaze.com/   Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm, Sunderland, MA, is open Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays, September 12 – November 8, 2015

https://www.facebook.com/pumpkinfest   6th Annual Pumpkinfest, Turners Falls, MA, October 24th, 2015, 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.nrm.org/event/pre-halloween-tour-luminaries-exploring-stockbridge-cemetery-2/?instance_id=42778   PRE-HALLOWEEN TOUR Luminaries: Exploring Stockbridge Cemetery, October 29, 2015, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

http://www.craftsofcolrain.com/index.html  Annual Studio Tour, Saturday and Sunday, November 14-15, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.hitchcockcenter.org/programs/adult-programs/natural-history-programs-series/#familyprograms   Pumpkin Carving, Thursday, October 22, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.  & The Enchanted Forest: A Non-scary Halloween Event, Friday & Saturday, October 23 & 24, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

http://ontrendcrafts.com/upcoming-events-72615/  OnTrend Fall Craft Fair, Hadley Town Commons, Hadley, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

MACropped

~ A few notable annual festivals and events in Central, Northeastern and Southeastern, MA:

http://www.wachusett.com/EventsActivities/AppleFest/tabid/362/Default.aspx  Mt Wachusett 32nd Annual Applefest, October 17-18, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.westendfallfestival.com/  West End Creamery, Whitinsville, MA, Corn Maze, and Fall Festival, Weekends Sept. 12th, through October 25, 2015

http://cmschamber.ning.com/page/harvest-festival  26th Annual Harvest Festival, Sturbridge, MA Town Common and grounds of the Publick House Historic Inn, October 17 & 18, 2015, Sat.,10 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Sun., 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Rain or Shine.

https://www.nantucketconservation.org/activities/cranberry-festival/  13th Annual Nantucket Cranberry Festival, Milestone Cranberry Bog, Nantucket, MA, Saturday October 10, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – rain or shine

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Jack-o'lantern 2012

~ Halloween Related ~

http://www.hauntedhappenings.org/  Salem, MA, Haunted Happenings 2015 Thursday, October 1 – October 31, 2015

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/poeinsalem/  Edgar Allen Poe in Salem, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 5:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/thegravedetails/  The Grave Details, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Fri, Oct 23, 2015, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.beverlyhistory.org/  Witch Stories by Candlelight, Hale Farm, Beverly, MA, Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.

http://www.edaville.com/explore-edaville/shows-events/   Pumpkins Aglow, Edaville USA, Carver, MA, Friday – Sunday in October, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

http://www.mirbeau.com/calendar/halloween-masquerade-ball-2/?instance_id=12477  Mirbeau Inn & Spa at the Pine Hills, Plymouth, MA, Halloween Masquerade Ball, October 31st, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

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Some sites for MA events all year, as well as outdoor recreation:

https://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/hf-510/

http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/09/western_mass_bucket_list_30_th.html

http://festivalnet.com/state/massachusetts/ma.html

http://www.mass.gov/portal/articles/western-massachusetts-hiking.html

http://www.mass.gov/portal/articles/advanced-hiking-trails-in-massachusetts.html

http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/

http://berkshires.org/business_category/festivals-special-events/

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Dear Son, Sorry

I was reading lists of things to teach your children before it’s too late on my news feed.

To quote former Texas Governor, Rick Perry: ‘oops’.

I didn’t teach you about money very well.  You need to pay your rent, and your bills, and your student loan, and get food, for godssake!  Oh, for all that, you need to budget.  Don’t know what that is?  I didn’t either, yet somehow, we both lived.  Yeah, I have about $8,000 in credit debt, but they’re the ones who gave me the cards!  Also, my debt is down from $15,000, and if I helped you with math, you’ll know I’ve paid down nearly half!

Interest.

They charge you to keep that pretend money  – often a lot! – especially if your credit rating sucks, which mine did.  Because I managed to pay back nearly half, I have better credit now – will they ever learn?

Food.

You really shouldn’t eat all the crap I fed you until I found out that it was crap I was feeding you.  McDonald’s didn’t get rich off us, but we loved their french fries, and sadly, the proof is still in our arteries.  I’m sorry!

Sugar isn’t your friend, fat isn’t either – unless it’s good fat, and then – not too much, OK?

Are you exercising?  Yes, I made you go out and play – holy crap – I managed to do something right – but are you keeping your muscles and bones strong and safe?

I was a helicopter parent, or maybe a light experimental craft, because I hovered, but not to the extent I’ve read about some parents – sheesh!  I can at least feel good about that while I’m wringing my hands over what I failed to teach you.

Teachable moments.  I missed so many.  Again, sorry.  I was winging it.  I did have positive reinforcement skills – telling you to use an inside voice, use your walking feet, and gave you choices – even if it was a choice between two shitty options.

Also, I didn’t swear much when I was raising you, and that was a huge accomplishment, believe me.  I fucking swear all the fucking time now, and before I had you.  I was trying to teach you, and myself, that swearing isn’t necessary, it’s just fun.

I wouldn’t, however, swear when talking to your boss, or anybody who might ever possibly have power over you.

People suck, and life isn’t fair.  Did I tell you that enough?  There are many good people too, they’re just harder to spot, and are suffering from being dumped on by all the jerks.  Be nice to them.

Remember this mis-attributed Mark Twain quote:

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

There are so many things I forgot to teach you, but thankfully, you’re smarter than me, so you’ll figure it all out before you have children – if you have children – which I recommend and I don’t recommend.

If you know that I love you, that you conquered my selfishness, that you made me a better person, that I always wish the best for you – wish for stamina to withstand all the challenges you’ll face, keeping your humor, your hope, and your humanity intact, then I’ll believe I’ve done a good enough job.

Love,

Mom

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Summer Day, Twelve

The cool breeze and shade diminished the heat of the sun as I walked down the road to Marie’s house.  I watched the big maples and oaks as I walked, their leaves rippling and swaying in the wind, the sun filtering through them creating dappled patterns, moving kaleidoscope-like on the pavement.  I tried leaping into spots of sun but the dance was too fast, I kept losing the game.

The rustle of chipmunks and squirrels startled me as much as I startled them, leaving me relieved to see them scampering under the leaf cover, over a log, or up a tree.  When the woods got thicker, the sun spots all but disappearing from the road, I worried about hungry bears and wolves attacking me, and I’d quicken my pace, but never run.  Running was cowardly, and the rule was, I’d only run if I actually saw a bear or wolf, otherwise, I just had to feel the fear, knowing that it wouldn’t be far until the trees thinned out, giving way to the fields, where I’d be back under the hot sun, hoping the breeze kept up.

Some days, when there was no breeze, I’d pretend I was lost in the desert, the shimmer of heat up from the pavement was a mirage – that wasn’t Marie’s house up ahead, really.  It would disappear when I got closer, my parched lips, dry mouth, and swollen tongue would find no respite.

The game ended when I reached her driveway, and sometimes she would be outside waiting for me, and then we’d go off, away from her nosy little brothers, and play games with her Barbie and Ken doll – marrying them and then making them get divorced for various reasons.  The hottest days, when she was inside, I’d revel in the cooler inside air, going over the kitchen sink, helping myself to a long drink of water – rescuing the poor desert wanderer.

My parents had divorced about two years then, and I liked being at Marie’s house where her mother and father were together, and they lived a life as normal as I wish I had.

It was many years later, when I had my child, that I realized what it must have seemed like to Marie’s parents – that no one wondered where I was, that I could stay over any time I wanted, no permissions needed.  Her parents talked of wanting to adopt me that summer, a conversation I heard and related to my mother, begging her to let me live there.  My mother, her pride kicking in, refused, thus sealing my fate – and I wish I had known how to ask skillfully, maybe requesting to stay at Marie’s for the summer, and not mentioning adoption…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current.

 

Our Time Comes

My mother is in her 80’s now.  80’s!  I realized what that means at our holiday family gathering when we were opening presents, and I gave my mother her gift to open, and something was happening to her, freaking us all out.  She closed her eyes, and seemed to be struggling internally, swallowing, all the while drifting away.  I called out, “MOM”!, as though my voice could stop her slipping into – whatever the hell was happening.  Her eyes fluttered, then half-opened in response, and I could see it was taking extraordinary energy for her to come to awareness, and then she tried to get up to use the bathroom, but she nearly passed out upon rising.  I grabbed her, but my left arm is still weak and I couldn’t hold her, yelling to my sibs: “Help me! I can’t hold her.”  She was in stocking feet and sliding down our wood floor when my oldest sister grabbed her, and then my next oldest sister, the nurse, took her other side and they helped her into the bathroom.

I felt like we were witnessing her dying, and it was terrifying.  After what seemed like an eternity, one of my sisters came out of the bathroom saying she took her blood pressure, but couldn’t get it accurately – that it was reading so low she’d be dead – and all I could think was ‘duh, she was dying!’, but stopped myself from saying it. I wanted to call 911, or get her to a hospital, but my sisters asked me to wait and see if she worsened.  After 10 minutes or so, she had recovered, becoming her chipper, aware, self within a half-hour or so, which was actually more unsettling, because – what happened?

While the drama unfolded in the bathroom, the rest of us, my son and his girlfriend – who was at our holiday gathering for the first time – my S.O., my sister’s husband, and another long-time family friend were unsure what to do.  Once my mother was starting to feel better but wanted to stay in the bathroom for a while longer, my oldest sister stayed with her and we proceeded with the gift exchange, which seemed rude, but my son had to leave shortly, as did my next oldest sister, and our family friend, so we halfheartedly continued.

I feel like a total shit now, like, of course we should have waited for my mother and sister to come out of the bathroom, but we felt the danger had passed as my oldest sister was staying in there against my mother’s protests that she was fine.  I was trying to weigh carrying on with making everyone wait for however long it would be.  That feels like a co-dependent decision now.

But this is life.  I make crappy decisions all the time, no matter how I try for perfection.

My mother is going to die, and maybe soon.  Perhaps, though, she’ll accomplish her goal of reaching 103, thereby outliving her father, who died at 102 – but as John Lennon famously sung in, Beautiful Boy, and others have voiced before him: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

I don’t want to lose her from this world, though.  There’s the rub.  I know it’s inevitable and I have to prepare for that happening sooner rather than later – but it could also be that I pass before her.  Not being assured another minute is scary, but the odds of me dying soon are lower than that of my mother’s. So, I am embracing whatever time we have left.

Good memories of connection, love, fun, great conversation and family history are what I’m focusing on now, and I hope that my son will feel the desire to know and understand where he came from, and what my young life was like sooner than I did with my folks.

I remember a gravestone that read something like, ‘Know that whenever I was taken, the end came too soon’. I still have more time with my mother, so I will honor our gift of time the best I can.

cropped-meandmom2010.jpg

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

 

 

 

All I Want For Christmas Is A Valium

My family came to celebrate our Christmas gathering on the Solstice, which worked out nicely for my mother and me, the two de facto pagans in the bunch.  My mother is more of a ‘in fact’ pagan as she follows the religion and I just like their ideas more than I like any other ideas, religious or spiritually speaking.

Mostly, I like the return of the light.  Summer cannot get here fast enough now.  Winter is still and lovely at times, but it’s also cold and depressing for me.  Spring is sweeter than I want to admit here, but I live for the season that won’t be here for several more months – so suck it up, I must.

Out of my two sisters, one doesn’t like me much, and no matter what I do, my actions, or inaction, are interpreted in the worst way.  My other sister and I get along much better, and we have mutual respect for each other, but religion will always be our barrier.

The brother who showed up is the youngest of our bunch, and because he’s intelligent and relatively typical, I forget that his brain is different.  He’s in the autism spectrum, as well as being a trauma survivor.  Various medications have left him paranoid at times, or haven’t helped his depression and anger.  He’s got a better doctor, new medication, and seems more even than I’ve seen him in a while, but he’s involved with an active alcoholic who only likes him when she’s drunk, but my brother has such low self-regard that he takes it.

He was hit by a car while riding his bike last summer and is waiting for his settlement to get a car again and maybe elevate his living circumstances, but I get the feeling this new love interest of his is just waiting around to see what she can get out of him, because he was also talking about the things he’d like to do for her once he has some money.  It’s good to be generous, but he doesn’t get that people suck and ‘hurt people, hurt people’.  I’ve never met the woman, but from the few times he’s spoken of her, she seems like a bucket of trouble.  Not that my brother isn’t, but he doesn’t need a bigger trouble-bucket, and because his brain doesn’t connect well socially, he cannot listen to reason, or accept that he’s being used.  Again.  For like the thousandth time.

No, you can’t have his number.

Then my S.O.’s family came to our place for Christmas Eve dinner, and while they’re nice people, and I love his folks, his brother’s kid isn’t given clear boundaries or consequences.  He was given an acoustic guitar among his presents, which he proceeded to slam on like he was a slash rocker, and every feeble ‘stop that’ resulted in about five seconds of quiet followed by doubled-down ‘playing’.  I’m still a nobody but I wanted to grab the guitar and show him how some rockers use to leave hotel rooms, or finish their shows in equipment destruction.  If one of his parents had taken the damn thing away from him and told him he could have it back when they left, or some other obvious solution, it could have been a nice end to the night.  As it is, I am investing in noise cancelling headphones for next year.

My boyfriend said that in past years, their son would jump on my boyfriend’s couch, and his parents half-halfheartedly told him to stop, which the kid never did because the parents suck at follow-through.  Because my boyfriend is family, he could have intervened, but he feels it’s the parents job to manage their child’s behavior.

I hate that I’m also the slowest eater of the bunch, and around the dinner table, the kid kept whispering to his father about how much longer I was going to take.  I took even longer after that.  It was immature, I know, but revenge is still sweet as he had to sit there and wait for me to finish.

After that, I excused myself, and like the Rolling Stones intoned many years ago, I went ‘running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper‘ – Valium.  The evening became much more enjoyable, and, of course, they got ready to leave shortly after.  That was fine because my anxiety was already so high that the sedating effects barely registered.  I considered taking another one, but didn’t want to feel like a Lindsay Lohan trainee anymore than I already did.

Christmas is over, but my plans for next year are already forming: they involve a beach, my boyfriend as a Cabana boy, and no other relatives anywhere in sight.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Happy Thanksgiving Meal

My mother brines and dresses the turkey, cramming the cranberry and celery stuffing into the rinsed cavity, and then trussing the legs before placing the bird in the black and white speckled enamel roasting pan.

Percolating coffee on the stove draws me near, and I perch on the kitchen stool next to the stove, watching as the hot water browns more with each eruption into the glass top of the percolator.  I wish my mother would let me drink coffee, but she makes me a weak ‘tea’ out of cinnamon, and sugar in warmed water, with a splash of milk.  She calls it Cambric Tea, although she substitutes cinnamon for tea.

One of my older brothers is washing a mound of potatoes, carrots, and turnips, while my next oldest brother is on peeling duty. Never a turnip lover, I hate that she mixes them with the carrots, but at least she keeps the potatoes on their own.  My sisters will do the mashing later, while my little brother and I squirm in our impatience, and our pleas of when dinner will be ready, is met with ‘every time you ask me that, it will take longer’, by my mother.

Around 1 p.m., relatives begin arriving into the now steamy house.  Most of my cousins are older and don’t pay my little brother and I much attention, but we always eavesdrop on their conversations until told to go away by our older siblings.  Sometimes we get to play Monopoly, or, Life, with my cousins, although, Mouse Trap, is my favorite.  My older brothers consider Mouse Trap a baby game, so usually my little brother and I play that on our own, or with my next oldest sister, but it turns out that, Mouse Trap, is the only game we have they don’t, so we play it several times.

My aunts keep council with my mother in the kitchen, placing the desserts and sides they brought up on the refrigerator – and out of the reach of any hungry marauders, and then they set the main table, while enlisting me and my brother who made the mistake of coming into the kitchen, to set the card tables.  My father and uncles arrange the card tables and the folding chairs they brought, and then retreat to the den for cocktails, while they smoke and watch football.

There is nothing better to me than sitting on the kitchen stool and listening to the laughter and chatter of my mother and aunts.  They fill an otherwise stressful and dreary house with fun and good cheer.  Even my father is approachable as the relatives take his mind off of everyday life too.

Once everything is ready and platters fill out the tables, my father comes in and carves up the turkey.  Then the assembly line of passed plates circles the room until everyone has their dinner in front of them.  My father intones the Thanks-giving prayer over our bowed heads, and then the happy moment of digging in begins.

Dark meat is my favorite, drizzled with the turkey dripping gravy, a pool of which floats in the center of my mashed potatoes.  I manage to feed our dog the carrot and turnip mash, even though she will throw most of it up later from so many helpings of rich food greedily chowed down.

My mother’s cranberry relish is one of my favorite dishes. Most of the cranberries are ground up well, but an unmixed half a cranberry made it through the mixer, so tart I need a mouthful of potato, or a sip of milk to swallow it.  Hot, buttered, rolls steam on the white cloth napkin in their straw basket, and we know that later on, after the adults have retired in the den for talk and more coffee, and we children have finished the dishes, dessert would finally be served.

Pumpkin, Pecan, and Minced Meat pies, cinnamon rolls, and bread pudding with homemade whipped cream.  Even though we are stuffed from dinner, we’ll find room for dessert!

All too soon the relatives begin saying their goodbyes, and proceed out: our uncles and aunts, laden with the card tables, chairs, and extra dishes, followed by our cousins, start down the cement path, the chilled air swirling into the front hall, as my little brother and I call out tearful goodbyes, knowing a bath and bed are soon to follow.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Summer Times

Summertime reminds me most of my next oldest sister, Allona.  I think of my eldest sister, Rachel, too, but Allona was more adventurous and high-spirited.  Allona could also be intractable and bossy, but thankfully those times were less when we were younger.

Allona lived in several Rhode Island towns over the years, some areas better than others. She was gifted with a parrot when she was in her early 20’s, whom she still has.  Her parrot was cool when she first got him, except for his deafening jungle squawking early in the morning & whenever the humans around him got loud.  Now, he’s a cranky old bird who delights in going after exposed toes, or snapping at anyone foolish enough to try to touch him.  Allona has taken very good care of him over the years, but they’ve both grown more ornery over time.  I wouldn’t mind him so much if he could be trained not to squawk so piercingly.

Summers in the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s were often delightful, however.  We’d spend days by the shore, go dancing at night, and mostly enjoy each others’ company playing card games like Pitch or Spades.  Sometimes we’d go camping, my favorite part being the smell of brewing coffee on the camp stove those early mornings.  Camping lost its thrill for me as time went on and my body’s aches rebelled at bed rolls and even at air mattresses, but it was the least expensive option to go anywhere and stay for several days.

Life changed when I had my son.  I wasn’t as carefree anymore, and though we camped a few times when my son was a baby and toddler, it was more stressful than enjoyable.  I camped several times with my son and some of his friends in his pre-teens and teens, but after he was 13 or 14, my company was no longer desirable, which worked out because my body didn’t desire camping anymore either!

I always felt welcome at my sister’s house in my teens and twenties, and considered it a home away from home.  I am still comfortable at my sister’s, but I feel more like a guest these days.  Part of that is maturity – I’m more helpful and recognize that she has an order to her home that she likes, just as I have – so I try to keep my footprint small when I’m there.  In our teens and twenties, I didn’t think about respecting her space and resources – not that I was slovenly or over-consuming – it just wasn’t foremost in my mind back then, and neither was it in hers.

Allona was an energetic, adventurous, go-getter – and she still is – but now her efforts are more inwardly directed.  We figure out what’s important to us as we mature, and, often, our world becomes smaller as we let go of people and things that no longer serve us.

I don’t want to let go of Allona, or any of my family.  They’ve become more precious to me with time’s passage, and now that my son is grown, I feel I’ve reverted back to young adulthood – wanting adventure and close, happy, and carefree friendships to spend my time.  My body’s limitations tell me otherwise, and the sad distance between my son & I, when I had hoped to grow closer as friends once he was an adult on his own.

But today I feel a titillating warm summer breeze calling me to the beach, calling me to adventure, and I wish I were with Allona to share it.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day 10, Favorite Food

From: http://shortorderdad.com/?p=1734
From:
http://shortorderdad.com/?p=1734

“Why can’t I go with Lisa and Trudy?”, I begged mom for the third time in twenty minutes.  She was cutting up carrots, and celery –  and she gave me and my little brother a half a celery stalk for a snack, before adding the rest into the pea mash in the big stew pot simmering on the stove.

“For the last time, you’re too young to go out by yourselves.”

“But their moms are letting them go!”

Mom stopped chopping and eyed me, her lips whiting around the edges.

“Well, they are not your Mom, and your older brothers will take you after dinner, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go at all.”  She wiped her hands on her blue and white-flowered apron before picking up the ham-hock and adding it into the pot. “And, it’s the first year your little brother is going Trick-or-Treating, and you’ll have to stay with him”  She turned around starting to chop the onions, and I knew I’d be in trouble if I said another word, but I couldn’t help groaning, and I left the kitchen when I saw her raised eyebrows.

I laid down on the couch in the other room to pout, and listened to the wind blowing leaves against the side of the house, and after a while mom began humming, and I could hear my brother playing with his Lincoln log set on the kitchen floor, the sounds making me sleepy.  The celery hadn’t made me any less hungry, but mom would just get irritated again if I started asking if supper was done.

I got up and went into the kitchen anyway, and sat at the rectangular Formica table with the bumpy metal trim I liked to run my fingers along.  I didn’t like the kitchen chairs in the summer when my legs stuck to the plastic seat.  My brother got his head stuck in between the chair top and seat last summer and mom buttered his ears to get his head back out.  The stupid kid tried to do it again but mom warned him that she would just leave him there this time.

I thought that sitting at the table would make supper get done sooner, but instead, it seemed to take longer.  I liked the way the windows were steaming up though, and I went to draw a finger picture on the window but mom yelled at me that it would leave grease marks, so I sat back down and laid my face on the cool table-top.  Mom told me to get up and get the bread out of the pantry and put it on a plate, and then get the bowls and spoons out.

I didn’t grumble this time because I was so hungry and I knew that meant supper was ready!  I even got the butter without being asked.

Mom sat my brother on top of the phone books on his chair, and she told me to get my brothers and sisters for supper.  I yelled from the bottom of the stairs, making my mom yell at me from the kitchen to walk upstairs and get them, but they were already stomping down.

We all sat and ate our dinner, my older brothers finishing first, and my sisters close behind.  I loved the soup so much I wanted another bowl, and mom said there was just enough for seconds.

I hated having to wait for my little brother to finish, but mom let me go get my costume on while she cleaned up my brother.

After Trick-or-treating, the house still smelled like the pea soup, but I was too full of candy to want any more.  Mom made us pour out the rest of our candy to see what we could keep, while I smirked at my secret of already eating several pieces until my stupid brother told her we ate some on the way home – and I had told him he could have some only if he didn’t tell mom when we got home.  She told us to go straight to bed, adding that if we were poisoned it served us right for not listening to her, but when my brother burst into tears thinking he was going to die she relented and let us stay up another half-hour.

Through the years, Halloween has held a special memory of my mom’s pea soup, but I’ve yet to have, or make, pea soup as good as hers.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Things Remembered

When he was a boy
When he was a boy

101 Dalmatian pajamas, 4T. I breathe into the fabric, trying to catch the scent of my little boy, but I forgot that I washed them before packing them away in the box of baby remembrances when he had outgrown them.  The box also contained his cloth Madeleine doll, which showed where the scar was from her appendectomy, and the yellow rubber duck received at his baby shower that he had to have at every bath time.  I say ‘contained’ because when his sister, my nearly step-daughter, had her first child four years ago, I sent the rubber duck, after sterilizing it, with a letter, saying that I hoped her daughter would like it, and if she remembered how her brother had loved it when he was a baby.

His sister emailed me after she got the package, telling me how sweet that was, and her daughter liked it too.  When we went to visit them a few years ago, it was gratifying to see the rubber duck in among the bathtub toy collection.

She mentioned in a post how her daughter was enjoying the Madeleine books, and I knew it was time to send along the Madeleine doll, so beloved by my son at her daughter’s age, along with a little monkey puppet for her latest family addition, who is now a year old, and I haven’t yet met.  I got a note the other day telling me they received the package, and her daughter asked if she could keep the doll forever.

It seemed overly sentimental and silly to keep those few things from my son’s childhood, but I have no keepsakes, and no pictures from mine, so it was important to me, and I thought my son would one day appreciate the link back to his youth.  He thought it was cool that I had sent his niece the Madeleine doll, and we spoke about how he used to watch the Madeleine cartoon, and have me read the books over and over.  Rather than merely keeping useless things that only had meaning to me, the items became an heirloom of sorts, and re-connected my son and I with a happy memory from the past, as well as furthering my son and his sister’s bond, with her children too.

Keeping sentimental things just adds to my pile of stuff, so I’ve done my best to pare down, taking pictures of things before giving them away or recycling them. Having some tactile link to the past is important to me though, so the 101 Dalmatian pajamas will remain in the (now smaller) keepsake box.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

My Grandfather’s Birthday

Today my maternal Grandfather would have been 129.  He died in the Spring of his 102nd year.  My mother’s side of the family enjoys longevity, my father’s side, not so much.  My mother’s line comes from hearty French-Canadian farming family stock, and my father’s came from Scots-Irish and English fighting family lineage.  My father’s side carried the banner of anger and scrappiness, while my mother’s touted ‘get along and go along’.   My father’s ancestors were outwardly ill-fitted to society, while my mother’s forebears had more decorum, but certainly had their fair share of dirty laundry, so to speak.

I loved my maternal Grandfather, but never really knew or cared for my father’s father.  I remember him being a somewhat grumpy old man with a mean little Chihuahua named, Tippy, who would growl at you if it wasn’t trying to hump you.  That dog summed up my father’s side of the family to me.  My uncle, Chuck, was a burly man, like my father, whom I barely recall, but I do remember his wife, my Aunt Shirley, who was so kind, and pretty, having what my mother called ‘spanking blue eyes’.  She also had long fingernails and would chase my brothers with her hands curled, claw-like, toward them.  She was the only good thing about my Dad’s family, as far as I was concerned.  I don’t remember my Dad’s mother at all.  I think we visited with them twice, that I can remember, because they lived in another state, several hours away.

My mother’s family lived mostly nearby, which is probably why I have such a drive to stay near my siblings and mother as well.  I often think about my mother’s family in terms of how we all ‘turned out’.  My mother was the last of eleven children, all born in the depression era, five boys and six girls.  My mother was the surprise baby, born after my Grandmother thought she was fertile anymore.  My mother was born into a hard-working family, my grandfather and several of his sons worked on the railroad, while several others made military careers.  The women in the family mostly ran their families, and a few held outside jobs, or pursued passions other than domestic concerns, but they all fared well, mostly.

My mother is the only child whose marriage ended in divorce, the only child who married an unpredictable, angry man, and the only child, that we know of, whose first child was the outcome of a rape, that she was nearly disowned for keeping after being sent to a home for unwed mothers with the express purpose of giving up her child upon birth.  My mother stayed with one of her older sisters for a while, and her parents finally relented and let her go home with my eldest brother.  She flailed for some time, but found work, and an apartment, and shortly after met my father.  He was in the navy, handsome, and fresh out of a hellacious home life, and a disastrous first marriage.

I saw Back To The Future, when it first came out, and I remember thinking that my life would have been so much better if my mother had made a better choice to begin with.  Of course, were that the case, I likely wouldn’t have been born, so it was a moot point, but I would gladly not have been born to have spared my mother from my father.

My grandfather was kind to me, and used to call me ‘tiger eyes’.  He would also buy me Lucky Charms cereal, a treat my mother would never have approved of, but he also used to give me Jordan Almonds, which I hated, and still do.  I enjoyed visits from my Grandpa Brousseau, and vaguely remember my Grandma Brousseau, who died when I was just three.  It’s odd that I still feel connected to her even though I never really knew her.  I suppose it’s a testament to how much my grandfather meant to me that my grandmother means just as much.  My grandfather was kind to me, but he was also strict.  One of the first things he’d demand upon seeing us was to show him our fingernails.  It was important to him that we keep our hands and fingernails clean.  I guess that was his determination of good breeding.  Thankfully, we usually had enough warning of his visits to clean our fingernails before he arrived.

I remember visiting my grandfather in the last few years of his life, and he said how tired he was.  He could barely hear anymore, and was fairly blind, losing his two favorite pastimes: listening to baseball games on the radio, and reading the newspaper.  He said he didn’t know why he kept waking up every day, and that was one of the saddest things to hear.

It’s hard to see someone you remember as robust seeming so frail and lackluster.  During my last visit, when I was in my twenties, he asked me to come sit next to him on his bed, and then he asked me to comb his hair.  I wish I had the understanding that I do now.  I was so embarrassed because it seemed like such a silly request to me then.  I’d give anything to go back with the understanding I have now and comb his hair – and he still had a fair amount of hair even at a hundred.  I recognize his request as a way to connect with me, but I was too self-conscious then.  It wasn’t like when I was eight and would have combed his hair gleefully.  I can’t get that time back, and all I hope is that my grandfather’s spirit knows that I understand now, and that I’m sorry I was so awkward then that he took the comb out of my hand and said ‘never mind’.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa.  I love you, wherever you are.

Here’s a video link to a short video shot by one of my cousins when my Grandpa Brousseau was 101: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV-gmdb-w3A

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

September 26th, 2012

Happy Birthday to my beautiful son.  He is the best thing I have ever done, although I take no credit for his amazing capacities and talents.  He is his own person; I just ate well while he was growing inside me, and then made sure I fed him good food, gave him as many opportunities as I could afford, or could imagine, and taught him to appreciate reading, which he now loves.  His cognitive intelligence exceeded mine when he was about twelve, but my emotional intelligence stills beats his – hah!

He is bound to fare better in his life than I did in mine, and that is the best a parent can ask for.  I love you, my dear boy/man.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

One of my sisters and I were taking pictures of my son and his friends on our beach vacation weekend last summer.

They have copies of all the pictures, so I didn’t feel too bad cropping the other two young women out of the pyramid for this photo challenge.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Spring Day

I opened the windows today – the fresh air rushing in like a cat that’s been waiting all day to get inside.  The scent reminded me of what’s good about Springtime, and I forgot my woes for a while.

I vacuumed the floors and washed a few windows before I had to head off to work.  I even spent some time helping to weed a friend’s garden, even though my stuff still needs tending.  I don’t know what my priorities are lately.  I’ve been flitting around in the vast wilds of my mind, trying to keep abreast of my grief, but I remain unsuccessful.

My son writes an email, asking for a nice picture of the both of us he can frame for Mother’s Day, and I tear up reading the note.  ‘No, honey, we have no recent pictures.  I’ll have to come visit you and we can have one taken then.’  The reply seems to echo through a thousand years.  That’s how long it feels like we’ve been apart.  It’s not about time, it’s about distance.  You won’t make it home this weekend, and don’t know when you’ll be able to visit.

You’re further away from me than the moon, I think – the moon which occupies nearly the same space in the sky, and moves in predictable cycles.  Remember how I used to say “I love you to the moon and back”, and you’d repeat it in your sweet, tender child’s voice?  You’ve long lost that high-pitched timbre.  You’re a man now.  You’re a man who’s on your way in this world, and my job is done.  The rest is ‘icing on the cake’, I’ve heard said, but I still love you more than pumpkin pie, and I hope you still love me more than chocolate.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Back Home

I traveled with my son to Oregon to see his big sister and meet her family this past week.  It was an amazing trip, and not nearly enough time.

I’m sad today because we’ve been home two days now, and I finally caught up on sleep, and necessary life tasks, and have time to reflect on our short visit and how much I miss being with my son, and how we hadn’t seen his sister for ten years!

She’s always been in my heart, and I think I waited for her to make contact because I’m not really anything to her except her brother’s Mom, since her Dad and I parted (and her Dad and I had a strained relationship for so long), and I didn’t want to impose on her.  She was busy with college and work and living.

I think I was wrong.  I should have pushed it more, then all that time wouldn’t have gone by without connection.  Mostly, I felt that it was up to them.  My son and his sister kept in touch by email, and with Facebook, and I don’t care what the new ‘norm’ is – Facebook, Skype, email, etcetera – do not replace meeting in person!  No electronic media approaches being in someone’s physical presence.  There are articles saying that people have less need to meet in person because they’re so connected electronically.  Excuse me?  These are human beings were talking about, right?  Does anyone remember the psychological studies about the need for touch?

I don’t doubt that we connect through social media – and it may even save people’s lives – but it cannot replace face to face contact.  Being present with those we love fosters communion, strengthens bonds, and rejuvenates our spirits.  Physical presence stimulates all sorts of neuro-chemical reactions that help us thrive.

I never think I can love someone more than I do until I am with them.  Maybe I don’t love them more, but I am reminded anew why I feel so strongly about them, and how much they add to my life.  Maybe Skype, and the like, approximates that because you can see and hear the other person, or people, but you can’t touch them – and that will always be missing – even when ‘touch’ becomes available artificially.

Regardless, I know that saying: ‘don’t be sad because it’s over; be glad that it happened’, and I am, but also, stop trying to take my sadness from me!  Being sad is as much a part of my condition as being happy is.  I’d like the balance to reflect more of the ‘good’ feelings, as do we all, I would hope.  I’ll feel better in a few more days as our trip recedes into deeper memory, but the feelings are visceral now because I know what I’m missing.  I don’t want ten more years to go by before we’re in their presence again!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

2011 Christmas Day

It was such a lovely morning.  My son gave me a beautiful sweater, and he liked the few gifts I got him as well.  He really enjoyed his stuffed stocking, and it makes me so happy to see his happiness.  That’s the best aspect of parenting.  I don’t care how old your child/ren is/are: wanting for, and taking pleasure in, their happiness, and success, is paramount.

We had a scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast, and then we made our Gingerbread house.  We don’t have a good track record at that activity.  We’ve only made two of them before, both of which came out awful.  We didn’t name the first one, but we dubbed the second one: “Sucky, the Gingerbread House”, and this one my son named: “Mediocre, the Gingerbread House”.  We did have a lot of fun making it, and maybe any future attempts will give better results.

My son’s feeling mostly himself again, although he still has a cough, and he told me he woke up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night so he left his room and slept on the couch, where I found him this morning.

He left a little while ago to hang out with friends, and while I want him to stay well, it was really nice to have him home and wanting my help and company for the last few days.

Merry Christmas every one!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Christmas Eves

1989: I spent the evening with Joe; I moved in with him here in Vernon, Vermont, a few weeks ago.  I’m happy that there’s snow on the ground so it will be a white Christmas.  My brother, Scott, died in October, and I’m sad for my mom this holiday season.  I still feel nothing.  I don’t know why death doesn’t affect me directly, I guess that’s a coping mechanism.

1990: Our son’s first Christmas.  He’s only two months old, so it’s not really a big deal for him, but Joe’s daughter is spending Christmas morning with us, and she’ll be happy to get the Super Nintendo game system with, The Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt, and, Donkey Kong, games, and spend time with her brother.  Things have not been good between Joe and I, but we’re trying to work it out.

1991: My father and step-mother are visiting from Florida.  I’m happy that my father is getting to spend some time with his grandson, although it’s been kind of awkward when they’re here because my mom is spending Christmas here in my new apartment.

1992: I’m in my new apartment in South Portland, Maine.  My mom is here with me, and there is a lot of snow this winter, which Austen loves to play in.  My car broke down a few weeks after moving in here, and I can’t afford another one, but there’s a bus stop down at the end of the street, and a few of the Bahá’í‘s here in South Portland bring me to run errands once a week.  Joe is visiting over the holidays, and it’s been horrible and stressful – as usual.

1994: San Diego Christmas is quite different from what I’m used to.  It’s not really warm, about the mid-50°F’s, and rainy, but the air feels different, and I’m not sure I like it.  I’m at a 10-day program because I don’t want to live anymore but Tammy convinced me to see if this will help me.  I’ll get a counselor, and start an antidepressant, and I know it’s what I need to do, but I feel horrible being away for Christmas.

1996: Back in Massachusetts.  My mother is spending Christmas with me and Austen in our tiny apartment.  Things have been awful.  I’m still not getting child support, so that just makes everything tougher.

1999: It’s been a strange year.  I’m wondering if the Y2K thing is really going to screw up computers worldwide – I doubt it.  I told Austen that Santa was a real person a long time ago, and his spirit still lives on through all of us.  The other kids at school were picking on him for still believing in Santa.  He refused to believe me when I told him Santa isn’t still alive.  I don’t know if I did the right thing.

2001: I consider this the millennium year, even though I know many people considered 2000 to be the turn of the century.  I guess it’s both: 2000 because it’s no longer 19-something, but 2001 because CE started with year 1, so 2001 makes two-thousand years.  We’re still here, although a bunch of freaks were trying to convince whomever they could that the world was going to end.

2011: I think my favorite aspect of Christmas Eve is filling my son’s stocking.  When he was little, it was so gratifying to see his delight, and share in how fun Christmas was for him.  He used to love Christmas carols and we’d sing them together, and now he can barely stand them.  He’s feeling so much better tonight, but still coughing a lot.  I might watch, It’s A Wonderful Life, but I’m feeling tired, so maybe I’ll just go to sleep.  My throat is feeling a bit scratchy, and I hope I don’t get sick too.

This year has been so strange.  As I looked back through old diaries and read so much of where I’ve been, and what my life is like now, I appreciate now so much.  I don’t care if someone reads my old journals someday, but I sincerely doubt they’d read for very long.  I’m just grateful that I’m not as affected by the vicissitudes of life anymore.  I also did a great deal of healing work to get where I am now, and will most likely finish that work with my last breath.  I’m thankful to be alive, and hope I won’t die until I accomplish most, if not all, of my goals.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

O Christmas Tree

I’m really enjoying my Christmas tree.  Part of me feels bad that a tree was cut down so I could bring it inside my house to decorate and light up, only to discard it a few weeks from now.  I’ve struggled with that dilemma the last few times I got a real Christmas tree.  I didn’t even have a tree last year, but it really cheers up the room.  I’ve bought artificial trees twice now, and used them until I became really allergic (because of all the dust they gather – and likely some mildew too from humid summer weather), and the best option is probably a potted live tree that I can plant in the spring.  Although, not only do I like a taller Christmas tree than is reasonable with a potted tree, I’d have to get permission from the landlord to plant it, or find some other land to plant the tree on.  Seeing the top of my tree nearly reach the ceiling is satisfying somehow, and no artificial tree has the lovely aroma of fresh pine – no matter how much they ‘scent’ it in the factory.

Many years ago, my next oldest sister and I, along with our younger brother, went to Florida to spend Christmas with our father and step-mother.  Our father didn’t want to get a Christmas tree, but we kids decided he and our step-mother needed one, so off my sister, brother, and I went the next day, while my father and step-mother were at work, and bought a beautiful potted Norfolk pine that stood about four and half feet high.

We also bought decorations for it, and after we adorned it, and lit the tree up, the house felt much more festive.  A year or so later, my step-mother sent me a picture of the pine, which they had planted in their back yard.  It had filled out beautifully and grown about six more feet.

I’ve always felt glad that we ignored my father’s ‘waste of time and money’ objections and got the tree.  Even though my father has been gone for several years, and he and my step-mother had divorced many years before that, I wonder about that tree every Christmas.  It must be fairly majestic by now, if it’s still there.

Maybe I’ll get a potted Norfolk pine for my Christmas tree next year, although I’m not sure it would take well in our frigid climes.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Trimmed Tree Pictorial Tale

It felt very odd to not decorate my Christmas tree with my son, but I didn’t want to leave it bare for two weeks.  I decided to put the tree in the corner by my bookcases, and I’m enjoying having one this year, even though I think I’m a bit allergic to it.

My lack of skill with a camera made this a kind of cool picture where the light trails remind me of Santa’s reindeer, flying through the air:

Christmas trees look so much better in the dark!

When I was four or five, until I was nine or so, I’d shimmy under the Christmas tree every year, looking up through the branches with un-focused eyes until the lights resembled something like this:

Almost every ornament holds a special memory, or marks stages of my adult life.  My first serious boyfriend and I bought frosted glass bulbs for our first Christmas together.  He got half of them when we broke up seven years later.  I doubt he kept his, but I’m glad I still have mine.

My son made a few ornaments during his grammar school years that bring back those Christmases to me when I hang them up.  A hardened dough, glazed, and painted bone he made in his sixth grade class, (the year my mother got a beagle from the animal shelter, and the dog was on my son’s mind when he created the ornament), and a variety of others from my son’s first Christmas, to this year’s ornament that the folks at the tree farm gave to everyone buying a tree, commemorating the volunteers who helped with clean up and salvage after Hurricane Irene’s flood devastation this past August.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.